Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kaboom (2010)

                                                        Directed by Gregg Araki; Desperate Pictures

Take the cinematic elements of social satire, sexual awakening, conspiracy theories, science fiction, the pending apocalypse, and the supernatural, then combine them together. The result is an explosion...or a Kaboom. Director Gregg Araki takes his viewers on a crazy acid trip that is one of the most bizarrely entertaining experiences on celluloid which completely throws standard conventions of Hollywood film making out the window.

During his first week in the college dorms, Smith (Thomas Dekker) keeps having a recurring dream, with both familiar people and new faces of those he has never even met before, that culminates with him opening a door marked with the number "19" on it. Unfortunately for him, he never sees what is on the other side of this mysterious door and is unable to decipher the meaning behind it. Meanwhile, he is sexually undeclared with a crush on his beefcake roommate Thor (Chris Zylka) and his best friend Stella (Haley Bennett) is starting a relationship with a witch named Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida). Not like one of those emo goth chicks either, but one with actual supernatural powers.

Stella drags Smith along to be her wingman at a college party and ditches him when she hits it off with Lorelei, one of the strangers he recognizes from his dream when he first meets her. Some fellow partygoer offers him a drug-laced cookie, which he gladly ingests before running into a mysterious redhead who he also recognizes from his dream...who then proceeds to vomit on his shoe. 

During a trip to the coed restroom, he crosses paths with the beautiful London (Juno Temple), who takes him back to her place. After having sexual intercourse with her, he heads back home and sees the same redhead from the party being chased down by dudes in animal masks who obviously have bad intentions in store for her. She gives him a thumb drive, thus setting the rest of the film's zany events into motion. Detailing anymore would spoil the rest of this whacky picture, which is a challenging movie to review because of it so wild. You keep having a feeling of "what the heck am I watching", yet you can't help but see it through the end? 

What begins as an exploration of one bisexual young man's sexual coming of age morphs into a completely different sci-fi film once Smith downs the happy cookie at the party. Secret societies, psycho stalkers with magic powers, missing persons, tons of sex, and government agents begin to dominate the narrative. As Araki implements what should be serious material, he keeps the tone light the entire time. The real purpose of his film is to make a satire stuffed with many Hollywood productions' cliches which he mashes together to conceive his own love child.

Setting the unique atmosphere aside for a moment, the outstanding and believable performances from the leads are the cogs that make this film's wheels turn properly. Not only are Dekker, Temple and Bennett amazing, but smaller roles from veteran thespians such as Kelly Lynch as Smith's mom and longtime Araki favorite James Duval as stoner R.A. Messiah are welcomed relief as well.

Even though the story's main setting is at a normal everyday university, Kaboom resides in an alternate dimension based on our reality. Everything that should be considered strange for us in the real world is simply the norm in Araki's universe, whether it be the strangely empty college campuses, witches with superpowers, the end of the world, folks with telekinesis abilities, or international plans for nuclear destruction. It's all no big deal and just another day in the office. These elements are all deformed for comedy, both dark and mindless all at the same time.

Araki displays some sleek colorful cinematography beaming with technicolor within his many great set designs. As for the ending, you will either hate it or laugh at it until you cry. Never one afraid to take chances, the director returns to the mold of his many great bizarro 90's flicks such as The Doom Generation and Nowhere filled with uber amounts of sex and death.

From the mind of Gregg Araki comes the most unique sci-fi film you will ever see. If you are not turned off by something completely off the wall and unconventional to the point that makes you like you ate the "happy" cookie instead of our lead or if you are a fan of Araki's resume, make sure to leave your film snob at the door and watch a real Kaboom!

3 out of 5 Happy Cookies





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